Bechamel Sauce

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Bechamel, also known as white sauce is one of the mother sauces. It is a simple sauce to make, but it does require you to move quickly and be watchful. You will see it used as a base to other sauces, including cheese sauce for mac & cheese.

Bechamel Sauce
Ingredients and Process
5 tbsp unsalted butter
5 tbsp flour
4 cps milk
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Heat up the milk in the microwave until it is very hot, you’ll be able to see vapors rising up. Keep it hot. In the meantime, in a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat until there is foam on the top. Add the flour at once, and stir quickly with a wire whisk. This will make a roux, however, you want to keep the mixture light in color–bechamel sauce is a white sauce. You need to allow the flour to cook, otherwise the raw flavor will come through in the sauce. The process of making the roux, will take about 6 minutes and will be lightly golden.

Add the milk as quickly as you can, while still whisking it in to avoid lumps. Once you have incorporated all the milk, season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Continue to stir until the sauce thickens, it will take about 15 minutes to achieve the consistency of soft yogurt. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Italian Meat Sauce

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This is my basic meat sauce. It is a wonderful base to lasagna, goes superbly over any kind of pasta. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Meat Sauce Ingredients
2 lbs ground chuck
1/2 lb hot Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cps onions, chopped (about 2 medium)
1 tbsp sea salt
1 cp carrots, finely diced (about 2 medium)
1 cp celery, finely diced (about 3 stalks)
2 cps button mushrooms, diced
1 cp red bell pepper (about 2 medium)
5 Roma tomatoes
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed (about 2 tsp puree)
1 tsp black pepper
1-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1-1/2 tsp dried basil
2 tsps sugar
3 bay leaves
1/2 cp parsley, chopped
2 cps red wine or beer
1 cp water
3 tbsp tomato paste

Roast the reds (optional) – You can roast the bell peppers and tomatoes over a stove burner. Get the skins scorched all the way around, then dunk in a bowl with cool water and peel. Remove the seeds from both, the tomatoes and peppers before dicing.

Heat up a large saucepan and add the ground beef, sausage and salt. Stir the salt in and make sure you break the meats apart, you want it to resemble coarse meal.  The moisture in the beef will come out, so initially it will cook in its own liquid. Once the liquid evaporates, you will be able to begin browning the meats.

As the meat browns over medium high heat, add the onions, carrots and celery, cook it until the onions begin to look translucent. Then add the mushrooms, garlic, black pepper, Italian seasoning, pepper flakes, basil and bay leaves. Mix all the herbs in before adding all the tomatoes, bell peppers and parsley. Stir it all very well, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any drippings that may be stuck. Now you can add the wine, water, sugar and paste; stir everything well and allow it to come to a boil.

Once this comes to a boil, bring temperature to low and cover it with a lid. Allow it to simmer stirring it occasionally. It will need to simmer for about an hour. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

Turkey’s Day After

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Thanksgiving comes and goes. You eat roast turkey to your little heart’s delight and your tummy’s sacrifice. You’ve packed your fridge with leftovers. The family is mostly gone. And the thought of another bite of straight turkey sends you running for the hills. What should you do with all that day old delicious meat?

Make some Turkey and Rice! That’s what I did and it was a hit! You’ve already done the toughest part, cooking the bird. The easy part is staring you dead in the face. So let’s get to it!

1/2 cp bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cp cilantro, chopped
1/4 cp parsley, chopped
4 cps cooked turkey meat, chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cps rice
1 packet Knorr Sazón
4 cps broth or water
1 cp beer (or water if you don’t wish to use beer)
Sea salt to taste

Here’s what:
You will need a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Cook the bacon until lightly brown, then add the onions and cook until they become translucent. Add the cilantro and parsley, after stirring it in add the turkey pieces. Remove all to a plate and set aside.

In the same saucepan, add the vegetable oil to heat up. In the meantime, rinse the rice. Once you have drained the rice, add it to the pan, stirring to coat it with the oil. Now add the packet of Sazón, making sure that the powder is evenly distributed on the grains of rice. Now add the liquid and check the salt, season as needed. Bring it to a boil without disturbing it.

Once the water is almost completely evaporated, add the turkey mix and cover with the lid. Lower the temperature to low and allow the rice to cook/steam for 30 minutes. At the end of the 30 minutes, incorporate the turkey into the rice and serve.

Turkey #2 – D-Day Turkey

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This is how I make turkey every year, or rather, every time I’ve made turkey in the past. This is my true and tested method for a deliciously moist bird without fail. No basting, no fussing. The only fussing I do, takes place a day or so before T-Day. Just long enough to allow the bird to swim about in the briney water, relaxing in all the spices and seasonings I chose for that ocassion.

Then on the day it is to be served, I just lay it breast-side down on a roasting pan, brush it with butter and olive oil and forget about it until it needs to come out of the oven. It is always successful and enjoyed by all. You should try it this way, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I’m not cooking this one until tomorrow (Thursday), but I wanted to give you a play by play in case you were searching for an easy way to prepare your bird. I will update the pictures as things evolve.

Turkey Brine (1-2 days before serving)
In a saucepan, combine:
6 tbsp sea salt
4 bay leaves
2 tbsp sage, powder
3 tbsp Herbs d’Provence
6 cloves garlic
5 cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 orange, quartered
3 cps water
Bring this to a boil for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it cool down.

The turkey I’m working with is a 20-pounder. Remove giblet bag and neck, reserve these to make broth and gravy. Rinse the turkey under cool running water. In an oversized storage bag or a bowl, add the cooled brine, place the turkey in and top it off with more water–about 1-1/2 gallons of cool water. Give the turkey a couple of turns in the bag to ensure the water and brine mix in. Seal the bag or cover the bowl with plastic wrap then foil paper.

Put the whole thing in the fridge overnight. Usually I start this process 1-1/2 days before I am roasting the bird and I flip the bird every 8-10 hours or so, if it’s not completely submerged in the brining liquid.


Roasting Day
Remove turkey from the bag and drain any brining liquid that may be in the openings. Pat dry the turkey. Melt 1/2 cp butter (1 stick) with 1/4 cp extra virgin olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic (peel and cut them in half). Brush this mixture (avoiding the garlic) over the breast side of the turkey. Put it in the fridge for about 15 minutes, then flip the bird so the thighs are on top and brush with the rest of the butter. Place it in the fridge for another 15 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 400°. Coarsely chop:
2 oranges
2 carrots
1/2 cp parsley
4 cloves garlic
5 cloves
and mix in:
1 tbsp sage
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tsp sea salt
Use 1/2 of this mixture to loosely stuff the large cavity of the bird and arrange the other 1/2 under and around the turkey. Put the bird in the oven for 20 minutes at 400°,  then lower the temperature to 325° for the remainder of its cooking time.

Once the thermometer reads about 170°  in the thickest part of the thigh, remove it from the oven and cover it loosely with foil. Allow it to rest covered for about 15 minutes. Remove the aromatics from the crevices before you begin carving it.

I feel a bit silly to have to say this. I totally forgot to take a shot of the bird as it came out of the oven. And boy do I hate that, because it was a BEAUTY. Perfectly cooked, super juicy and golden brown. Will you take my word for it? Here’s a shot of it after slicing.

Nutty Apple Squares

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Honeycrisp Apples, of course!

I told you I would come up with some ideas to bake with my beloved Honeycrisp Apples. This little treat turned out quite well (after 2 tries), I got the inspiration from pecan squares, Houston’s apple cobbler and my dear friend’s pizza pie.

I took Dorothy’s (Dodo as I call her) pizza pie crust recipe and topped it with my interpretation of Houston’s cobbler–best in town. The result was a buttery crust topped with caramely apples and toasty nuts. And if you really want to indulge, serve it a la mode with some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream. Oh yeah!

Preheat oven to 325°
1-1/2  sticks butter, softened
1-1/2 cp flour
1/3 c. powdered sugar

You can mix the above ingredients by hands, believe me, I love my Kitchen Aid, but this is just way easier than washing the bowl and beater later. Incorporate the butter, sugar and flour; this dough will be very soft and pliable. Then spread onto a 11×17 inch cookie sheet. Don’t attempt to roll it, just pat it out on the cookie sheet. You want the depth of the dough to be about 1/2-inch thick. Bake at 325° for 10 minutes, you don’t need to get it completely browned as it will be going back in the oven.

Raise oven’s temperature to 350°
2 cps apples, peeled & diced
1/2 cp water
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cp firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cp honey
1/4 cp corn syrup
2/3 cp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3 tbsp whipping cream
3/4 cp each pecans and walnuts, coarsely chopped

In a saucepan, combine the apples, water and lemon juice over medium heat. Cook the apples until slightly soft and the water is absorbed. In the same pan, add the sugar, honey, syrup, vanilla, and spices, then stir in the butter over medium-high heat until melted and it all begins to bubble. At this point, turn off the heat, stir in the cream then the nuts.

Pour this hot filling into prepared crust and bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Cool completely before cutting into 2-inch squares. This recipe yields about 24 squares.

mmmMashed Potatoes

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OK, let’s face it. Mashed potatoes are one of those basics that everyone loves and for which we all have our own standards. I like mashed potatoes, before this batch I didn’t LOVE them. I do now. The potatoes themselves are just standard issue mashed potatoes. I think the difference is in the topping. See, what had happened was…

I wanted to make confit (I did, post to come) and in order to make it I needed to render some fat. I got some pork fat and rendered it, I was left with what I’m guessing are cracklings. That’s the topping. OMG! You could sub bacon for the cracklings, so don’t freak out.

5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cp heavy cream
1/4 cp butter (yeah, I know)
black pepper to taste
Dash of nutmeg
1/3 cp cracklins or bacon
1/4 cp onion brown butter sauce

Peel and quarter the potatoes and put them into medium size pot. Fill with cool water just to cover the potatoes, add salt and bring to a soft boil. These potatoes are very tender, a hard boil may cause them to break apart. They will need to cook for about 20 minutes or until a knife goes through easily.

Once they’re cooked, drain the potatoes. Place the pot back on the burner with the butter and cream, until the butter begins to melt. Put the potatoes back in the pot and begin mashing them immediately, stirring in the cream, butter and onion butter sauce. Check the salt, add pepper and nutmeg. Stir and serve topped with the cracklins and some more of the butter sauce.

I know I don’t need to say this, but I will anyway. ENJOY!

Onion Brown Butter Sauce

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This was pretty easy to make, took me all of 5-7 minutes from beginning to tableside. I used it to bring some turkey back to life, but I bet it would work with any poultry or vegetable.

Here’s how: Heat up a pan and add 2 tbsps extra virgin olive, add 1 cp finely diced onions and cook until translucent and beginning to brown. Remove the onions from the pan.

In the same pan add 1/2 cp butter and melt over medium heat; once melted it will begin to foam, keep stirring and the foam will begin to brown. Make sure you don’t allow it to burn, though, keep your eye on it.  Add the onions, stir. Then add 1/2 cp vermouth or white wine, you can flame this to burn out the alcohol, or just cook it for a few more minutes.

This rocks over turkey AND over mashed potatoes.

Turkey Love

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There are events that are celebrated for days, even a week at a time. Fashion Week, Mother’s Day, France’s Beaujolais Noveau Day, Valentines Day. All of these important, all celebrated on the date allotted to them. But because they’re all meaningful, they are still appreciated year-round. What about the beloved Turkey? Is it chopped liver? It is certainly treated as such. This humble, loud bird is forgotten about as soon as the clock strikes midnight on Thanksgiving Day.

POOF! It’s gone, except for the remaining carcass that may litter your fridge for a day or two. It seems people wait around all year to eat turkey one day and move on. Why? Where’s the turkey love? Even odd looking birds need love too. I have decided to show some turkey love this year by not limiting my turkey consumption to 1 day.

I will offer up some delicious turkey meals for the next few days. I will think outside of the traditional roasted turkey box and share my turkeyventures with you. Here’s Turkey 1: simple, no fuss, no basting.

Usually, I brine my turkey before roasting (more on that on a separate post). This time I wanted to treat the bird a bit differently, a little outside my comfort zone. I went for a rub of dry ingredients and olive oil. It turned out quite well.

Turkey #1 – Ginger Rubbed Turkey
For the rub:10-12 lb turkey, thawed
3 tbsp pureed garlic (about 6 cloves crushed)
1/2 tbsp each black and white pepper
2 tbsp sea salt
1-1/2 tbsp ginger powder
1/4 cp extra virgin olive oil
Remove giblets and neck from the turkey’s crevices, rinse the turkey in cool running water and pat dry. In a small bowl, combine the condiments together to make a paste. Rub this paste onto the bird, both the outside skin and the inside crevices. Cover it with plastic and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.

Roasting the turkey
Preheat oven to 400°
1 navel orange, quartered
1/2 cp Italian parsley, roughly chopped
5 unpeeled cloves garlic
1 cp ginger slivers
2 carrots, chopped
Remove the turkey from the fridge, use a damp paper towel to wipe off the excess rub from the skin. Mix the above ingredients, add a bit of salt and pepper, then stuff this into both openings in the turkey. Pat the skin dry.

Combine 1/2 cp melted butter (1 stick) and 1/4 cp extra virgin olive olive, and brush it onto the turkey on all sides. Place the bird on your roasting rack (I like roasting all birds with the breast down-this ensures extra juicy white meat) and into the oven for 20 minutes at 400° ; this will give it a nice golden brown color. After the 20 minutes, lower the oven’s temperature to 325° and cook the turkey until the thermometer reads about 170° in the thickest part of the thigh meat.

Once the turkey reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the oven and cover it foil. Allow it to rest covered for about 15 minutes. Remove the aromatics from the crevices before you begin carving it.

That’s it! I served it with an Onion Brown Butter Sauce and the best Mashed Potatoes ever!

Ginger Sour

Anamaris 1 Comment

I admit it. I love cocktails. I do. I like them limey and sweet. Tart and refreshing. Icey and strong. Please hold.

Sorry, I had to go make me one. I’ve tried a few different things in trying to recreate this drink. The first time I had it, I was on a business trip. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I was or the name of the restaurant where I had it. I do know it was a walking city, because I walked back to my hotel… not always in a straight line, but I tried.

It’s a delicious cocktail, it was a hit at one my recent girl’s in out evenings. It packs a heavy ginger punch, but if you enjoy ginger, you’ll love this one. You do need some prep time to make some ginger simple syrup ahead of time. I make a big batch of the syrup and keep it in the fridge.


For the ginger simple syrup: In a medium saucepan combine 3 cps sugar, 2 cps water, 2/3 cp peeled ginger, chopped. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until ginger is soft when pierced with a knife. Allow it to cool, then put it in the blender to puree the ginger. That’s it, put it in a resealable container.


Cocktail hour
Juice from 3 limes
2 oz ginger syrup
3 oz vodka
Diet ginger ale

Mix lime juice, syrup and vodka. Strain it into 2 tumblers with ice, pouring the cocktail up to 3/4 of the way. Top off with ginger ale, stir and enjoy!

This is a keeper, trust me!

It’s raining balls

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Meatballs, that is. My husband loves, loves this dish. He smiles, even giggles as soon as I say it’s on the stove. Albóndigas are the Latin American version of the Italian meatball. This dish, like most dishes with a pan sauce or gravy, improves overnight. All the flavors get to hang out, know each other and get happy. That doesn’t mean you have to make it ahead, just make enough to have some leftovers and have everyone in your office drool over your lunch.

The albóndigas are moist and flavorful as they are helped by the addition of bacon and seasonings. Then they’re simmered in pan drippings and beer on the stove top, leaving you with a light sauce that you can pour over your rice.



For the meatballs:
2 lbs ground chuck
1/2 cp diced bacon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Jugo Maggi (or Worcestershire sauce)
1/2 cp onion, finely diced
1/3 cp red bell pepper, finely diced
2 tsp garlic puree (3 cloves)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cp bread crumbs
1/4 cp ketchup

For the sauce:
1 medium onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cp Italian parsley, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 cps tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed garlic (1-2 cloves)
1/2 tsp habanero sauce
2 cp beer (about a bottle, minus a few sips for the chef)
Sea salt and pepper

Preparing the meatballs ~ Combine the ground beef,  bacon, onions, garlic, bell peppers in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, beat the egg, add ketchup, salt, black pepper, Maggi and mix thoroughly. This will allow the condiments to be mixed evenly when you add it to the meat. Once you have combined the  meat and seasonings, making sure it is all well incorporated, mix in the bread crumbs.  You are now ready shape the albóndigas. I like making them rather large-a little larger than  a golf ball-you can make them as large or as small as you’d like. However, keep in mind that the fat from the beef and bacon will cook down, so don’t make the meatballs too small.

This amount of beef will make about 15 meatballs. You want to use a pan with a tight-fitting lid, once you’ve shaped your albóndigas, heat up the pan. Add about 1 tsp of oil to the pan and spread it around the bottom using a paper towel or brush.  Gently place the balls in the pan, don’t crowd them. You need enough room between them to be able to turn them. When the meatballs are browned on all sides, remove them from the pan and set aside. You may need to brown them in 2 batches.

Some of the fat from the meat will have been rendered on the pan, add the onions and bell pepper and cook until the onions begin to get translucent. Add the tomatoes, garlic and parsley and stir; you may have some dripping at the bottom of the pan, don’t be afraid of these, they hold all the flavor from the meat. The moisture from the tomatoes will make it much easier to incorporate the drippings.

Add the habanero sauce and beer. You need to have enough sauce to cover the albondigas; adjust your seasonings if necessary. Bring the sauce to a boil, then add the meatballs, spoon some of the sauce over the top of them. Cover and reduce heat to medium and allow it to simmer for 35 minutes. Do give them a stir every once in a while, you want to make sure they albondigas are absorbing the flavors from the sauce.

Remove the lid and allow it to cook for another 10 minutes. The meatballs will be fully cooked by now, what you’re doing at this point is reducing and thickening the sauce.

Listo! They’re ready to serve over rice. I usually serve these with white or yellow rice. The last time I made them I served them with Arroz con Guandú; a very traditional dish in Panama. Follow the link for that recipe.

I hope you’ll enjoy this dish as much as we do, don’t forget to let me know how it turns out.

Cookingly yours,